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Midday

US News and World Report

Last week, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, released an outline of how House Republicans hope to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care. The legislative blueprint, which offers no precise cost estimates, includes significant changes to Medicaid, grants to states, health savings accounts, and tax credits. Similar repeal-and-replace drafts are circulating as well among Republicans in the Senate, and will have to be reconciled with the House proposal.

On Wednesday, the US Conference of Mayors called for a National Day of Action to talk about the potential consequences of repealing Obama Care.  The Mayors point to  impacts on the health and safety of low income residents of their cities, and the financial strain changes may put on local hospitals.

Today on the Midday Healthwatch, Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore's  health commissioner (and first-time expectant mom!), joins Tom to talk about what the effects of an ACA repeal might be on Charm City.  We’ll take your calls, your questions and comments. 

President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia have become one of the most controversial and pressing issues of his administration.

Last week during a press conference the president denied having any ties to Russia or the country's president Vladimir Putin. Saying "I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does." Russian diplomats have suggested a different story.    

Yesterday, President Trump named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his National Security Advisor. With Michael Flynn out, and McMaster in, what might that portend for relations between Russia and the US?  

Accidental Courtesy

 

Reaching across the aisle to engage with your enemy. It’s a concept we hear politicians throw around but it’s becoming increasingly less popular as our political discourse becomes more divisive and polarizing. For some, respectfully engaging with an enemy that seems fundamentally opposed to their very existence is impossible, but it’s exactly what Daryl Davis has been doing for more than 25 years. Mr. Davis is a musician who’s played with the likes of Little Richard and Chuck Berry. But, when he’s not on stage, Mr. Davis, who is a black man, meets and befriends members of the Ku Klux Klan. This hobby started in 1983 when an audience member struck up a conversation with Mr. Davis after a gig. When the gentleman in the audience revealed that he was a member of the KKK, the conversation did not end and after years of being friends, that man dropped out of the Klan. In fact dozens of former KKK members have given up their robes as a result of their friendships with Mr. Davis. 

photo courtesy Boston Globe

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump attracted voters who yearned for disruption.  As it concludes its first month, few would disagree that his administration has delivered on that promise.  Big league. 

In a series of rambling perorations at his first solo press conference on February 16th, the President said, as he often does, a whole bunch of stuff that isn’t true.  He also offered several opinions that many people agree with:  that CNN is bad, that Fox and Friends is good, and that he is making progress fixing "the terrible mess" he says he inherited on January 20th. 

On our Midday News Wrap each Friday, Tom and a panel of keen political observers review some of the week's top news developments and try to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the facts from the fiction. Today's panel includes Stephanie Rawlings Blake, the former Mayor of Baltimore who's now a consultant at SRB & Associates and an analyst for ABC News; Liz Copeland, the founder of the Urban Conservative Project, and Charles Robinson, a business and politics reporter with Maryland Public Television.

And we take listener calls, tweets and emails.

Creative Common

Today, another installment in our monthly series, Living Questions, in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere.  We’re producing this series in partnership with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

There’s been a sharp rise in anti-Muslim violence in the United States over the past two years, which coincides with the divisive presidential campaign and election of Donald Trump.  Negative perceptions of Muslims are nothing new.  Nearly half of all Americans believe Islam is a faith more likely than others to encourage terrorism.  

These notions have been fueled by several high-profile terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States by self-proclaimed “jihadists,” but they’ve also been advanced by a well-organized chorus of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the US that started long before President Donald Trump started campaigning on a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States.  One week after he assumed office last month, he issued a controversial executive order that attempted to halt immigration from 7 Muslim-majority countries, including an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.  That order has been stayed by a federal court.  

Last November, Mr. Trump’s former national security advisor. Michael Flynn, described “Islamism” as “a vicious cancer” in the bodies of every Muslim that he warned “must be excised.”

For many American Muslims, that kind of rhetoric has posed challenges to their basic safety. 

Next month, the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies will begin a series of lectures called Confronting Islamophobia

Today we’ve invited three Islamic scholars to Studio A to discuss their own experiences "confronting Islamophobia" and how evolving American perceptions of Islam have been influenced by the new political landscape in Washington:

Imam Tariq Najee-ullah is the Interim Resident Imam of Masjid Muhammad, a mosque in Washington, DC, and he’s the founder of DC Musliman, which uses interfaith activities to address social issues…

Kristin Garrity-Şekerci (sheh-CARE-jee) is a Research Fellow and program coordinator at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, a multiyear research project that connects the academic study of Islamophobia with the public square. 

And Nazir Harb Michel is a senior research fellow with the Bridge Initiative.  He has worked with the Woodrow Wilson School training future policy makers and analysts to detect and counteract Islamophobia in legislation.

ClintonBPhotography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her regular Thursday review of local and regional stage productions.  Today, she spotlights the ambitious new production of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, now on stage at Everyman Theatre.

Adapted from the 1860 classic by Gale Childs Daily and directed by Tazewell Thompson, Great Expectations is a faithful condensation of this enduring saga of identity, fate, sacrifice and generosity,  and it draws brilliantly on the multi-role talents of its small cast.

Great Expectations continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, March 5.

Johns Hopkins University

*This edition of Midday was shortened to accommodate NPR's special coverage of President Trump's press conference with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

Genome editing, that is the ability to make additions, deletions, and alterations to the genome of a human or animal, is not a new. Scientists have been experimenting with it in labs for a while to better understand the way some diseases and disabilities work. But now a new report released yesterday from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine sets international guidelines for genome editing. New editing tools like CRISPR have opened up the doors for more lab and clinical research projects. The scientists behind the report hope their guidelines will serve as a roadmap to help other scientists avoid the ethical concerns associated with gene editing.

Office of The Mayor

Today a conversation with Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh. Mayor Pugh took her post in December 2016 after a long career in Maryland politics, first as a Baltimore City Council member and later as a State Delegate, so she is no stranger to Baltimore’s old problems. 

To date, According to the Baltimore Sun, 45 people have been killed in the city this year. What can be done to assure that a homicide a day isn’t the new normal?   When Mayor Pugh was elected she campaigned on a platform that included improving education, now Baltimore City Public Schools may have to layoff 1,000 teachers and cut arts and enrichment programs due to a $130 million budget deficit. What role will the Mayor play in ensuring a quality education for the city's young people? 

Kira Horvath for Catholic Relief Services

The civil war in Syria has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II. Since the conflict began six years ago, nearly five million people have fled from Syria to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. More than six million others have been displaced from their homes, but are unable to get out of Syria. A million people have requested asylum in Europe.

The Obama Administration committed to placing 10,000 Syrian refugees in the US in 2016. Last month, President Trump tried to ban all travel to and from Syria indefinitely. That ban was overturned, at least for the moment, by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last Thursday night.

Today, a conversation about what is happening on the ground, and what we might be able to do to help the millions of people who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

Tom's guests today in Studio A are all deeply involved in the effort to help refugees. Bill O'Keefe is the Vice President for government relations and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, which is based here in Baltimore. Linda Hartke is the CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, also based in Baltimore. Bill Frelick is the Director of the Refugee Rights Program at Human Rights Watch in Washington, DC.

The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

David Simon needs no introduction in Baltimore, but a quick reminder for our far-flung listeners: David is an author, writer and producer of the acclaimed TV series about criminal justice in Baltimore, The Wire, and many other projects, including Treme, Show Me a Hero, and the upcoming HBO drama, The Deuce.

He joins Tom today in Studio A to talk about City of Immigrants: A Night of Support, an event that he has  organized in support of immigration and in opposition to the Trump Administration's proposed curbs on refugee admissions and travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. Tonight’s event  at Beth Am Synagogue in Reservoir Hill will include, in addition to remarks by David Simon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch, the activist DeRay Mckesson, City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen and others, with music by singer/songwriter/actor Steve Earle. Proceeds from the event will be donated to The National Immigration Law Center, the Tahirih Justice Center, the International Rescue Committee and the ACLU of Maryland. Donations will be matched up to $100,000 by David Simon’s Blown Deadline Productions.

The event  is sold out.  A small number of additional tickets be made available at 4 pm today.  If you can't get a ticket, don't despair.  The gathering of Baltimoreans "united against fear, nativism and the immigration ban" will be live-streamed on the Washington Post website. Here’s the link.  And, after the event, use the link to watch any time. 

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